They are the two greatest words in sports: Game 7.
The stakes could not be higher, and the Rangers have welcomed the opportunity to play the do-or-die game.
“This is the greatest thing about what we do,” Brad Richards said Wednesday morning, following the Rangers’ team meeting at the Garden, about playing a Game 7. “There’s no other feeling in your life that’s going to duplicate what a day like this is — what it means if you win especially on home ice. These opportunities only come along so often. There’s going to be some day when this whole team will be retired and sitting back, wishing we had another day like this where you could get ready for a big game in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden.”
The Rangers’ Game 7 history is somewhat of a mixed bag. They are 6-3 all time, though the Rangers have played in three Game 7s the last two playoff seasons and won all three. But the last time the Rangers and Flyers played a Game 7, the Flyers won the game, 4-3, to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers beat the Bruins in six games to win the first of their two Cups.
Wednesday’s win-or-go-home game was one of three on the night, along with Minnesota-Colorado and Los Angeles-San Jose. According to the NHL, home teams in Game 7s the last three playoff seasons have a 5-5 record.
Nash disappearing act
Among the themes over the first six games of the Metropolitan Division semifinals has been Rick Nash’s lack of goal scoring.
Nash does not have a goal in the series, although his four points are tied with linemate Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin for second-most on the team. Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis are tied for the team lead with six points.
“Rick is trying his best right now,” Vigneault said of Nash, who has been credited with 25 shots on goal in the series. “He’s looking for holes, he’s protecting the puck. He got a couple of good looks [in Game 6.] [There is] nothing he can do about the first six [games].”
Nash has 12 points (two goals and 10 assists) in 22 career playoff games with the Rangers and Columbus.
The Rangers are going through a power failure at the most inopportune time.
Heading into Game 7, the team’s power play was 3-for-28 in the series, including an 0-for-20 stretch dating back to Game 2.
So the question posed to Martin St. Louis was what needs to change in order for the Rangers to have success on the man advantage.
The answer was concise.
“Put one in the net,” St. Louis said. “I think everybody would feel good about that. Just try not to overanalyze it. You [have] to win battles. We talk about having a work ethic, having your poise, being calm mentally and being able to see things clearly but at the same time really, really push energy-wise and work ethic-wise.”
Benoit Pouliot, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan have the Rangers’ three power-play goals, all coming in the series’ first two games.
NHL notes …
The NHL announced Dominic Moore, Jaromir Jagr and Carolina’s Manny Malhotra are the finalists for the Masterton Trophy, awarded “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards ceremony on June 24 in Las Vegas.
As part of his recuperation from a broken hand, Chris Kreider skated Wednesday afternoon.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.